Foreword By E Comp The Reverend Timothy L’Estrange

At the heart of our ancient rituals is the story of a building project. In Jerusalem, a great Temple is constructed and finally dedicated to God with much celebration and rejoicing. But that Temple represents the end of a long and tortuous journey. For centuries a nation had wandered through danger and difficulty. Their tabernacle was a tent as they journeyed in pursuit of a promised land. Even when David had brought the Ark into the city of Jerusalem, they still had to remain patient and attentive, as the time was not yet right to complete their quest.

It was David’s son, Solomon, who finally built that Temple. It took time, perseverance, and determination in the face of difficulty – even the tragic loss of the principal architect. But in the end, and with much celebration, the Temple was dedicated, and the air thronged with rejoicing. It was a tribute not just to the builders but to all those who had lived their lives through those long years, faithfully serving the community and remaining full of hope for the future.

The world community has been journeying too, perhaps not for centuries, but for more than a year now, and though we hope to be nearing our goal, we too must remain patient and attentive. The league tables of hospital admissions are finally tumbling towards normality, and the task of vaccinating half a million people every day, which had sounded so unlikely, is being achieved comfortably. 

London’s Freemasons have acquitted themselves with distinction during these difficult times. Individual members have risen to the challenge of serving the community in a range of voluntary capacities, from training to run Nightingale Hospitals and vaccination centres to driving vans to deliver second-hand clothes. Where I live, West London Masonic Centre has produced and distributed thousands of meals. Lodges and Chapters have found imaginative ways of staying in touch, and there are countless stories of people going out of their way to protect and support the vulnerable. Stimulating webinars and lectures have been offered via on-line platforms, and some of our newest members have been amongst those to develop these excellent concepts. In short, times have been tough for all of us, but London Freemasonry has shown itself to be sufficiently nimble and agile to respond rapidly and imaginatively to the strange and ever-changing circumstances, supporting our members and their families, and reaching out to serve the wider community with selfless determination.

What we now long for is to be together once again in our Lodges and Chapters and in the fellowship of dining together. I am reminded of my favourite ride at the funfair, which I call the “bumper-cars”, though the operators prefer “dodgems” – the difference is significant. The signs always proclaim that dodgems should move safely, all in the same direction, dodging direct contact with each other, but that’s really quite dull! Most of us eschew the dodgem mentality and prefer the bumper-car approach instead, gleefully and deliberately crashing into friends and family and often bumping into random strangers too! The real fun is not in the avoidance of other dodgems but in the actual contact with other bumper-cars! As a society, we have grown tired of being dodgems, carefully avoiding each other, with mere glimpses of friends from behind masks and across social distance. We are ready to return to being bumper-cars, crashing into friends and family, with handshakes, slapped backs, and hugs, and we are ready to return to bumping into random strangers too and enjoying human contact.

Thank you, Brethren, for your dedication, perseverance, charity, and enthusiasm. We are entering the exciting stage of planning towards normal interactions with one another once again, in our homes, in the community, and yes, in our Lodges and Chapters too – there is a new spirit of optimism, and I look forward to bumping into you again, very soon.

Timothy L’Estrange
Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 44.